Le Champignon Sauvage, based in Cheltenham, is a restaurant that I’ve been meaning to visit for some time. What with holidays, cooking and life in general it just hasn’t happened yet but luckily David Everitt-Matthias’s book on dessert from the restaurant has slipped into my collection with ease.
It’s a beautiful array of recipes from a chef with no formal pastry training who has collected awards for exactly that, along with two Michelin stars for the restaurant. What makes David’s cooking different seems to be his love for combining foraged ingredients with classic recipes. Throughout the book there are sections of pretty regular desserts, tarts, cakes etc but then sections using vegetables, roots, pods, seed’s and bark and also wild ingredients. It certainly feeds the mind and the imagination.
I decided to stay relatively safe and opt for a chocolate dessert striking in appearance and light on ingredients. Tanzanian chocolate wasn’t available so I went for Dominican for the ganache element of the dish sticking with 62% Ghanaian chocolate for the chocolate triangles which sandwich the ganache before finishing with a white chocolate mousse.
The mousse is the first job as ideally it needs to set overnight. White chocolate ( a lot of it,half a kilo to be precise) is melted and then mixed with a sabayon of egg yolks and sugar and finally cream and double cream. White chocolate is a pain in the arse in general for seizing and giving you a heart attack thinking of how much money you’ve spent to get this far but fortunately once the cream was added it slackened off a bit but was by no means perfect. Gelatine is also part of the mix which helps the texture somewhat. I was considering halving the recipe but it’s tricky with the quantities with the downside being you end up with a hell of a lot of mousse.
With the mousse chilling, day two began with the hunt for acetate sheets. I have ordered these previously from online suppliers but it’s far easier to nip down to your local stationers and pick up some plastic covering which is the same stuff for a much cheaper price. Onto these sheets you smear over a combo of melted chocolate and walnut oil, the mix of which looked too loose to begin with but set in no time, don’t be scared to do a slightly thicker layer as the chocolate isn’t as strong as the tempered stuff.
Once the chocolate set firm I set about cutting out triangles. Using a sharp knife I scored out a few equilateral triangles and carefully prised them away from the sheet with the acetate still on to stop them sticking in the airtight container. This wasn’t easy but gradually you get into a rhythm.
Finally it’s the turn of the all-important ganache. A simple case of chucking hot cream and butter over a bowl of chopped chocolate which then gets mixed to become a smooth chocolate cream, delicious. The ganache only needs 10 minutes in the fridge to firm enough to pipe onto the triangles once you begin the assembly.
I painted a swipe of ganache on the serving plates as the mix came together while still fairly liquid to create a striking decoration. Immediately I placed a base triangle on the ganache which held it in place once it set. Beating the chilled ganache before piping helps the texture no end which guarantees that your tower will stay standing.
I was delighted to actually achieve a one-handed quenelle of mousse by dipping a spoon into hot water and using a forward-backward motion with the spoon, excitement was building as the elements came together….
Nervously piping the ganache on in mounds rather than lines seemed a better idea and gave a better finish. Delicately placing the quenelle and final chocolate decoration on the top was a joyous moment after all the disappointments of the past with chocolate, a stunning plate was the reward…
The dish is striking and almost seems a shame to stick a spoon through it but after a brief hesitation I went for it. It’s quite handy that it’s a small plate of food because it’s incredibly rich. The mousse and varying cocoa contents of the chocolate provide interesting flavour but for me the dessert lacked something cold or acidic, maybe yoghurt sorbet or something. Otherwise it’s pure heaven for any chocoholic.
Le Champignon Sauvage: Dessert is available to purchase from Amazon.